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ZeroBorg; a brand new small but powerful motor controller and sensor board for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Build tiny but awesome robots!
ZeroBorg; a brand new small but powerful motor controller and sensor board for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Build tiny but awesome robots!
ZeroBorg; a brand new small but powerful motor controller and sensor board for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Build tiny but awesome robots!
340 backers pledged £12,152 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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ZeroBorg - Robotics for the Raspberry Pi Zero

£12,152

340

The ZeroBorg is our new add on board for controlling motors using the incredible $5 computer the Raspberry Pi Zero.

The ZeroBorg with a Pi Zero and battery
The ZeroBorg with a Pi Zero and battery

Its small size means it fits neatly below a Raspberry Pi Zero and opens up endless possibilities for tiny robot designs! A Raspberry Pi Zero, ZeroBorg and a 9V battery weigh as little as 65g! 

The ZeroBorg can control 4 motors independently and gives you whole new ways of moving your robots. Take our Mecanum robot we built to test the board (see it in the video above!). Each wheel can be driven independently meaning you can go forwards, backwards, tank steer and strafe like a crab.

The ZeroBorg next to our Mecanum robot
The ZeroBorg next to our Mecanum robot

ZeroBorg technical specification 

Each board has:

  • 4 full H-Bridges, 
  • Capability of driving 4 motors or 2 stepper motors, 
  • 2A peak or 1.5A RMS per bridge, 
  • An on board fast blow fuse at 5A, 
  • Designed to run off a 9V power source (max range 2.7V to 10.8V. To power the Pi Zero 7V minimum),
  • 2 analogue inputs, which are great for sensors,
  • I2C communication, allowing daisy chaining to other boards,
  • Fully soldered and ready to use.

ZeroBorg Formats:  

For backer rewards, the ZeroBorg will come pre-soldered in 3 formats.

KS1: ZeroBorg capable of controlling 4 motors.

The ZeroBorg KS1
The ZeroBorg KS1

KS2: Same as KS1 with additional:  

  • DCDC regulator which powers the Raspberry Pi Zero 
  • Infrared sensor allowing control from most TV remotes 
  • 9V battery clip (PP3) for powering the Raspberry Pi Zero and the ZeroBorg. 
  • Secondary I2C header for daisy chaining to other boards such as our UltraBorg or PicoBorg Reverse
The ZeroBorg KS2
The ZeroBorg KS2

KS3: Three KS1 boards daisy chained together capable of controlling 12 motors.  

The bottom board has: 

  • DCDC regulator which powers the Raspberry Pi Zero 
  • Infrared sensor allowing control from most TV remotes 
  • 9V battery clip (PP3) for powering the Raspberry Pi Zero and the ZeroBorg. 
  • Secondary I2C header for daisy chaining to other boards such as our UltraBorg or PicoBorg Reverse. 

The middle board on the KS3 has: 

  • Two female I2C headers to allow communications between the three boards.
The ZeroBorg KS3
The ZeroBorg KS3

Who are PiBorg? 

PiBorg is:

  • Timothy Freeburn (hardware design),
  • Arron Churchill (software design),
  • Andy Frost (mechanical design and assembly) and
  • Claire Pollard (social media, assembly and shipping).

The company was formed around 5 years ago as Freeburn Robotics, a consultancy company for the engineering industry, but we quickly realised how much potential the Raspberry Pi had to introduce people to the amazing world of robotics and PiBorg was born. The decision was made to produce add on boards for the Raspberry Pi and we haven't looked back. Our first board, the LEDBorg, was a tri-colour LED, and we've since produced boards to control motors, sensors, servos and all sorts!

We also build and design robotics kits such as the DiddyBorg and 4Borg to help people start off building their own epic robot projects.

We are regulars at the now famous Cambridge Raspberry Jams, and help out designing obstacles like the turntable for PiWars. Check out the video from Team Cybercondriac blasting round the course! 

Finally, you may have seen DoodleBorg; our giant 6 wheeled monster robot controlled by a Raspberry Pi B+. 

Will you provide software for the board? 

Yes. We have working software for controlling the board. It's not available online as yet, but will be closer to the end of the Kickstarter.

As with our previous boards, we provide extensive open source software with examples and ideas through our website and on GitHub, and the ZeroBorg will be no exception.

How do you support backers?

Along with our software, we provide support through our website, forum, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for if you have any trouble with setup or use of the ZeroBorg.

We pride ourselves in making sure everyone gets the best out of our boards, and it doesn't stop after we've shipped the boards. We're always around to help out or offer any advice you may need.

Where are PiBorg boards designed and made?

We design all of our boards here in the UK. Sadly we don't manufacture the boards in house. But by backing things like this Kickstarter, you're helping us make small steps towards being able to manufacture boards in our offices in the future.

The location of manufacture will differ depending on how successful this Kickstarter is. The more backers we have, the more likely manufacture will take place in the UK. If it doesn't take place in the UK, it will most likely take place in China. We have great relationships with manufacturers in both countries and have used a combination of both on previous products we've made.

Programming, final testing and shipping of the boards will be done in our offices in the UK regardless of manufacturing location to ensure each board meets our high standards before shipping.

Prototypes

We have made 2 prototypes. The red PCB below shows the first prototype we made using PCBs manufactured by Ragworm.

The first ZeroBorg prototype
The first ZeroBorg prototype

After making this prototype, we redesigned the board to use a different PIC which gave us analogue inputs which are great for sensors such as line followers, variable resistors, wall detecting sensors etc.to give makers more flexibility with their robot designs. Also changing the PIC fixed an issue we had with with PWM control. 

The green PCB in all other pictures is the 2nd prototype, and the final design we will manufacture.

The second ZeroBorg prototype
The second ZeroBorg prototype

How far are you into production? 

Currently we have working prototypes which we have hand assembled here in our offices. You can see these in the project video and photos we've posted in this description.

The final manufactured product will have superficial changes such as a slightly different silkscreen print, but components and layout we are happy with and will not change.

Timescales

Once the Kickstarter has come to an end, if we are successful, we're predicting the following timescales:

  • During the 14 day funding transfer window, we will organise quotes for manufacture, assembly and component sourcing.
  • Assembly is estimated at 5 to 6 weeks based on our previous production experience.
  • Programming and testing is expected to take 5-7 days in our offices.
  • Packing will happen alongside testing. As boards complete testing, rewards will be assembled.
  • Shipping for small rewards will be done via Royal Mail and they estimate 3-4 working days for the UK, 4-6 working days for Europe and 6-8 working days for everywhere else in the world. This doesn't take into account customs in your individual countries. We will not offer tracking for these pledges.
  • Larger rewards at £50+ will take a little longer to assemble but will be signed for/tracked via Royal Mail.

Risks and challenges

Issues we could come up against:

Component sourcing problems; to reduce the risk of this happening, we've chosen components that are widely available from reputable resellers such as Digikey and Farnell. Should a component become unavailable we will substitute a component with a similar one. This should have no effect on the functionality of the board thanks to initial design choices we have made.

Assembly mistake; although we take great care in developing very easy to follow assembly instructions, mistakes can be made when the boards are away from our premises. We have made 2 prototype runs to minimise the risk of assembly mistakes. We have the ability to rework small problems in house, minimising delays. But if a larger assembly problem occurs, a re-run would have to be called. This should mean a worst case delay of 6 weeks.

If unforeseen circumstances prevent us from completing production of the board, a full refund would of course be offered.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.40

    We love robots pledge! Come the robot uprising, your new overlords will look kindly upon you. :)

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    Pledge £5 or more About $7

    Sticker and thank you reward! Get a thank you card with a limited edition sticker in to say thank you for supporting our first Kickstarter.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $14

    EARLY BIRD BACKER!

    ZeroBorg KS1.

    The ability to control 4 motors independently (see rewards in description for more details).

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    Pledge £15 or more About $21

    ZeroBorg KS1

    The ability to control 4 motors independently (see rewards in description for more details).

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    29 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $28

    ZeroBorg KS2

    Same as KS1 but with additional IR Sensor, regulator, 9V clip and secondary I2C (see rewards description for more details).

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    173 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £37 or more About $52

    ZeroBorg KS2 and an UltraBorg.

    As per the KS2 reward but with an additional UltraBorg sensor board for controlling ultrasonic sensors and servos.

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    66 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $70

    ZeroBorg KS3

    Three KS1 boards daisy chained together with IR sensor, 9V clip, regulator and extra I2C channels (see rewards description for more details). Signed for/Tracked postage for all KS3 boards.

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    20 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £70 or more About $98

    ZeroBorg KS2, UltraBorg and PicoBorg Reverse

    As per the KS2 reward but with an additional UltraBorg board for controlling ultrasonic sensors and servos and a PicoBorg Reverse motor control board for controlling bigger robots. Signed for/Tracked postage.

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    9 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $140

    ZeroBorg KS3, UltraBorg and PicoBorg Reverse

    As per the KS3 reward but with an additional UltraBorg board for controlling ultrasonic sensors and servos and a PicoBorg Reverse motor control board for controlling bigger robots. Signed for/Tracked postage.

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    6 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About $349

    ZeroBorg KS3 and a DiddyBorg Red Edition.

    As per the KS3 reward but with a DiddyBorg Red Edition robot kit. Free postage!

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    Limited 2 backers
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £500 or more About $698

    All the boards and kits! A huge bundle of kits and boards which includes: DiddyBorg Red Edition kit, a 4Borg kit, a PicoBorg Reverse, an UltraBorg, a TriBorg, a LEDBorg, an XLoBorg, a PicoBorg, a BattBorg, ZeroBorg KS3 *AND* a brand new secret board we're currently working on! Free postage!

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  12. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,396

    DoodleBorg drivers experience: Come and visit PiBorg headquarters, have a tour, have lunch, drive our monster Raspberry Pi Robot DoodleBorg and walk away with a DiddyBorg Red Edition, a 4Borg, a PicoBorg Reverse, an UltraBorg, a TriBorg, a LEDBorg, an XLoBorg, a PicoBorg, a BattBorg, a ZeroBorg KS3 *AND* a brand new secret board we're currently working on! (Travel not included). All rewards to be collected on visit to PiBorg.

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Funding period

- (30 days)